Thursday, June 13, 2019

Italians first? No, everybody

Stories and News No. 1166
Once upon a time a school.
To be precise, when I say school, I mean the building, but also inside.
At least in this short story the students and their precious teachers were one with the foundations, the supporting structure, the windows and the ceiling, as well as the walls.
Walls which – it should always be remarked – are not only allowed to divide, but also to support and protect the weakest ones, not just the opposite.
Well, the previous night someone left testimony of his thought, or delirium, on the walls next to the entrance gate.
Italians first, this is the writing that children and parents saw the next morning. It would have been impossible not to see it, as it was very large.
Some of the adults commented briefly on that, some complained about the usual carelessness by the education ministry, but most tried to ignore the aggressive message.
It was certainly not a new phrase in their eyes and their ears; and it's well known. When you get used to a slogan that incessantly precipitates from above as if it was normal stuff, like rain or snow, regardless of how ignoble or virtuous it might be, it becomes an integral part of the common language.

However, that day, in front of that wall, there weren’t only adults.
In this regard, I’ll be wrong, but I'm still convinced that our greatest chance to get out of the darkest periods is that in the world there are more witnesses to our mistakes than we realize. Even if we persist in every age to underestimate them.
In particular, a group of fourth grade children was very impressed by the warning and once they reach the threshold of the classroom they decide to go along with it.
For the record, some kids stopped at the edge of the door: Jian, Oksana, Ahmed, Ileana and Rodrigo, superficially definable the exotic portion of the classroom, if only limiting ourselves to negligible trifles like the name’ singularity or the relatives’ origins.
Italians first, they thought in unison, or we should give precedence to them. No problem, if this was the rule, they seemed to say. In other words, we’re used to something worse. This is acceptable, you know? That’s okay, we’ll enter immediately afterwards. Just let us enter.
It seemed to have ended there, and it would have been so, if we weren't talking about young creatures, who are by nature devoted to surprising those who trudge behind them due to excess of prejudice, rather than years.
In fact, Giorgio, Maria, Daniela, Piero, Claudio one and Claudio two also stopped on the threshold.
Italians first, they thought more or less at the same time. That is, it’s up to us to be kind and polite first, giving priority to those who come from afar.
It seemed the right conclusion about the impasse, but other comrades eager to differentiate themselves. And, sorry, but the diversity of points of views and the willingness to
freely express them are among the healthiest innate aspects of humans, and it should be encouraged.
In this case, Sara called Saretta, Francesco known as Fra, Silvano known as Silvano, as well as Gaia, Katia and Fabio - also famous as the chronic latecomers - froze like their mates a moment before entering the room.
Italians first, they thought while crossed by sincere contrition for the continuous entries far beyond the bell. And with shared conviction they apologized publicly to their companions. Because first us, who were here before the foreigners, should be those to give the good example on how to behave. And leave to the teachers the task of being teachers.
Well, after a short time all the children stopped at the door for the most disparate reasons, when their teacher arrived.
The woman asked for explanations and as soon as she realized what had happened she rejoiced.
She smiled with sorrow and hope, the best weapons against the shouted and even legalized obtuseness.
"Come in," she said, inviting the children to step into the classroom with a delicate hand gesture.
"Italians first?" One of them asked.
No, was the answer in her look as much the words.
Everybody first.

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

European elections 2019: how to vote on planet Titanic

Stories and News No. 1165
Most of what personally concerns me doesn’t count now. My selfish interests and my aspirations don’t matter. Not right now, when once again we’re a few days from the umpteenth moment when our vote is required to choose a party, a vision, moreover the people who’ll decide our future as humanity, even before citizens and nations.
I move to the window that looks out on the outside world, the real or the imagined one. With great perplexity I close my eyes and I see.
I see our beloved and mistreated mother earth that over

time has turned into a strange kind of planet-shaped ship, which sails without sails or engine, driven on her journey by the sheer weight of her passengers, bringing an unmistakable name on: Titanic.
The word is enough to those with memory and maybe a bit of common sense survived during the trip.
I’m a simple cabin’s boy on board and perhaps this is not a coincidence, just as it’s not so unusual that it’s precisely the most expendable crew members who abandon the duties assigned by the sea hierarchy to reach the command bridge and protest.
"Sir, a word," I exclaim with all the strength that
still resists in my tired body, refusing to surrender before the cynical sentences of the monster called reality.
The man is a captain like many of these times, who are leader only on paper and some social networks, but have never studied the sublime art of driving a ship, let alone learned to read the stars or decipher the recommended routes by the world map designers.
"What do you want?" He abruptly asks, interrupted during a silly talk with the other officers.
"Captain," I say, fueling my courage. "We’ve got a problem."
"I know, boy," he replies. "They chose me for that, but those invaders won’t be able to get on board. Why do you think did I order the sailors to watch the ship from bow to stern day and night? "
The invaders, he says, and I can't help but think of those unlucky people floating among the waves around us, driven by the desperate desire to survive.
Some of them come from makeshift boats pouring down because were built with waste materials we made ourselves or rammed by us.
Others are born among the waves or we’ve thrown them out because the crew come first, never humanity, as the modern flags say.
Once we shouted man overboard, I remember. Now the first sentence that is pronounced in these cases is a question that tastes of hostility, never solidarity: is he one of us?
In any case, I don’t give up.
"Captain, sorry..."
"Are you still here?" He replies annoyed by my presence. "Oh, I understand. You want a selfie with me. Good, go upstairs and come here, but then go back to work. "
I've made a lot of stairs in my life, upwards and often down, but I don't think there is a universe among the infinite possible ones where I could walk on them for such a questionable reason. Then I remain impassive and I insist.
"Boy," screams the wrong version of the mythical Ahab, with the heart and maybe also the wooden head, instead of the leg. "Why do you bother and don't go back to your duty?"
"I can't," I say.
I don't want and I don't have to, I think but I don't add, biting my tongue.
"Can't you go back to work? Fine. As you well know my officers and I set up the basic ship income. Enjoy our magnanimity and go away. "
"But the problem would still be here, Captain," I exclaim with growing irritation in the tone of my voice. "And it's not just mine, but everyone's."
"What is it, a threat? A terrorist! Guards, take him! "
All of a sudden I am surrounded by grim looks and rifle barrels thirsty for helpless victims.
"I'm not a terrorist," I immediately want to clarify, and I try to explain myself anyway. "Do you know what month we're in?"
The captain and his associates burst into laughter at the aforementioned question, perhaps because they feel saved by the alleged attack on their safety.
"We’re in May, boy, and now that I have solved your stupid doubt, you can go back washing the floors and polishing the cannons."
Suddenly I realize that I have to say it all in one breath, otherwise the poor listening ability of the guy to whom we entrusted our destiny will prevent me from communicating my whole thoughts.
"We’re in May, captain, yes. We’re in mid-May, to be precise, but our ship is still shaken by wind and rain. We’re in late May, that the previous ship diaries still delude us to indicate it as spring peak or even summer prelude. We're in the middle of May, sir, and it's cold. Particularly at sunrise and at dusk. As if at the beginning and at the end of these crazy days of ours, like the story that hosts us, at the moment when the attention of the reader should be higher, the sky did its best to warn us that yes, we have a problem as big as the world itself. Because that problem is the world, and we're the cause or the solution, no alternatives. "
Needless to talk about what outcome my heartfelt outburst had, but now that I am in chains in a cell of the hold, condemned for insubordination, I don’t regret what I’ve done.
Why, will you say? What motivates my obstinacy?
In that moment I open my eyes and the dream dissolves, but this doesn’t prevent me from continuing to see.
And I see crucial questions that should be asked every candidate to drive our ship, big or small.
What will you do to respect the environment and climate change? What is your strategy for global warming? What is your opinion on sustainable energies and renewable resources?
The choice is yours, as always, but the only possibility we have to survive tomorrow is to exclude, no ifs or buts, those who aren’t able to provide serious and reasonable answers to these questions.
Let alone those who don’t even consider them...

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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Why I quit social media

And why you should too...

It's a bit long, I know that, but I have to say all.
In any case, I finally did it. It took a while and I admit it wasn't easy. It was a process of rediscovered or renewed awareness that wasn’t immediate. It needed intermediate steps.
I must admit that also studies and other contributions on the topic gave me the final push.
So, recently I deactivated my profiles and related pages on the various social media I had subscribed in the last years, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I have kept only the Youtube channel since I never considered it a social network like the aforementioned ones and for various reasons, such as the greater freedom to control the contents and the way of sharing them.
Let's get to the title: why did I make this decision?
At the time when I began to consider this choice, years ago, there were already enough reasons to me, but as I started to think about it with more commitment and, above all, to study and read about, I found a lot more of them.

Well, every time I think about it, I discover others, tormenting me with another question: why didn't I do it before?
Anyway, enough with preamble, let's get to the answer, that is, the answers.
I was lucky or not to experience the World Wide Web’s rising and all that it has brought to our society.
Moreover, I would like to say that this is not a lesson or a mini-essay, but only a heartfelt sharing.
Nevertheless, although in the last twenty-five years I spent my energies and concentrated every passion between artistic expression and therapeutic field work, I have a degree in computer science.
Therefore, also for this reason, I reacted immediately with fervent interest looking at the spread of internet and its potential.
I know I am not an easy person, I have my faults and among them there is certainly stubbornness and obstinacy in wanting to do things my way.
For this reason I immediately saw internet, with its possibility to connect between each other in a horizontal way, as a unique opportunity.
I hate compromises and, more than ever about the things I strongly believe, I tend to refuse them without any discussion.
That’s why, once I sensed the multiple chances within the new way of meeting each other, I literally threw myself on it.
It solved a huge problem of mine and I’m not at all sure that I’d have followed the path I pursued if there had been no internet.
As I started to say at the very beginning of my career, I'm just one who writes. But at the same time, also because of complicate childhood and adolescence, since then I can't, accept as normal shameful ways of interacting between us just because everyone does it.
For this reason, knowing myself, when I was just a young aspiring author and actor, I didn’t prefigure a gratifying horizon.
But then the internet came and everything changed.
Thanks to it I was able to get in touch with many extraordinary traveling companions and also thanks to their help I have seen my words published and disseminated, listened to and mixed with those of others. And the past part is that I’ve been able to preserve more or less intact a good dose of consistency with my principles.
The reason is simple, in my humble opinion. Corruption of our ideals almost always passes through the interference that rains from the top from the powerful “saviors” who come to reward you with a flamboyant consecration, giving you their precious help.
As if they really did all that for free...
I would like to emphasize this with my personal experience: differently from the past, internet is a phenomenal tool to make us an active society and to realize individual and collective aspirations, without loosing quality and fundamental values of the initial intentions.
However, like many others, I too fell into one of the most blatant deceptions of our time: to believe that social media are internet or that they work more or less in the same way.
Well, the day after my final exit from the tunnel, I am here to affirm without hesitation that Facebook and all the others are nothing but sticky and dangerous spider webs.
Like the latter, they look like a network, yet they are something else.
Whether you are a writer, an actor, or an artist of any kind, a professional in any field, but also just a person who uses it as a hobby or a game, even before bringing up the damage they can do to our mind and our life, I would like to point out what they’re not, but that is precisely what they promise.
I take my work as an example, so I say something more concrete. For as long as I have used them the response to the diffusion of my stories, the books’ sales, the shows’ audience and the chances of having favorable contacts about artistic jobs is zero.
Even if I’ve got lots of likes and shares, loving hearts and even ecstatic comments of two lines or so, the outcome in the real world was almost nothing.
At the same time I won’t get back the wasted hours and no compensation for the continued distraction to my real work, as well as the disastrous fragmentation of my concentration from the damn smartphone’s buzzer or the notification at the top of the computer screen.
I have never achieved a single contact on any social media that has subsequently led me to realize something concrete outside of it.
Let's face it all. Despite the terminology that has been abused so much, thanks to social media I have no new friends beside me. I mean real ones, staying close to me when I really need it, to say one of the most banal reason.
Among my stories that have obtained the most authoritative awards, and that still today prove to have passed the time’s proof, most of them have been almost completely ignored once they appeared on social media.
Furthermore, you can’t imagine how many times I found myself checking that people who had digitally appreciated and shared my work they had not read or seen it at all.
Even if my departure has started gradually, during the past months I have almost completely reduced my presence on social media.
Well, you have no idea how much my work has earned from it, both in terms of the amount of time and, above all, quality.
A few months ago, talking to friends about my imminent decision, leaving some of them astonished or even upset, obviously one of them asked me the fateful question: how will you do with books and shows? Don't you need social media to promote them?
Apart from what I have already said above, as proof of the poor contribution of the latter to the actual promotion of my work, there is another aspect that I consider fundamental which I would like to talk about.
As far as I am concerned, I have ideals that I care about, as many have, and often they merge with what I write and bring on stage.
I'm not perfect and more than ever I'm not a saint, far from it. I often suffer from what I don't do or what I do wrong.
Nevertheless, among them there is certainly respect for human rights and attention to the world's poor, retaining the human person’s value as a central and indispensable element, as well as having priority over all considerations.
I firmly believe that peace and democracy are something for which to struggle every day, at every moment, as something that is not and never will be definitively acquired, but the result of a perennial action.
I’m convinced, finally, that internet is above all an opportunity to give voice and support to the most disadvantaged and oppressed creatures on the planet, counteracting the manipulated and anesthetizing system narrative by governments and their more or less secret servants.
Well, the question I have asked myself several times over the years and that I share with you is this: how could we be coherent with such ideals and at the same time giving up our identity to the adverse subjects, among inhuman multinationals, criminal organizations and disturbing government institutions?
Because all social media work essentially of them. They are like a hallucinatory journey that makes us prisoners in a sort of spider's web, as I said above, where we are convinced to go somewhere, doing something and meeting others, while we are nothing but food for the rapacious marketing weavers, as well as goods for buyers and sellers of our more personal data.
In return, they have made our hopes more vulnerable and fragile.
They have moved us away from each other instead of getting closer.
They have increased our anxiety and stress rate.
They made us weaker as individuals and as groups.
They are manipulating and exploiting us.
They are drugging us, ultimately, immobilizing us between the dwarf of our fears and the giant of our dreams.
Because who are stars and celebrities outside the social media, they continue to be thanks to the adoring fans inside of it, and those who aspire to the wonderful firmament are under the illusion of approaching obtaining or even purchasing thousands of followers and likes.
If we were in the Matrix movie and I was Morpheus I would now strongly recommend to take the red pill.
Fortunately, believe me, for everyone's luck, we're not in a movie and, as far as I'm concerned, not even in a social media.
We are on the internet, of course, and as one of my former university professors said, we are internet.
And in my humble opinion we are infinitely better than a retouched photo and some viral posts.

Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

My social network

A short story by
Alessandro Ghebreigziabiher

A tale from the future, or the present too. It always depends on where you choose to travel with your own imagination...

That’s peace, that’s what I called serenity.
All thanks to the new world where I was born.
To be honest, to those who designed, implemented and sold it.
I've got peace, now.
Especially tonight, this early spring’ Saturday, under the shelter of my beloved apartment, my very thick walls, the surgically armored front door and all the fabulous double glazing windows.
May the sacred operating system, which controls all of us, bless them.
I’m calm, finally, because my diligent voice assistant just told me that I have no other option available, since I have reached the maximum level of quiet within the social media.
I've always called it my social network, despite it has become a colossal spider web as big as the planet itself.
Yes, I know. It sounds disturbing. It looks like the work of an evil creature who longs to trap the naive people of the earth, unaware of being destined to become food for the monster. But these are delusions from conspiracy maniacs, who never disappear, unfortunately.
It's not my case.
I learned the lesson. It took me a while like everyone else, but finally I recognized and profited from the advantages of the digital relationship.
Three among the many: first, nobody forces us to disagree. Second, nobody forces us to listen to other people's dissent. Third, no one can agree with our thinking better than ourselves.
On the other hand it’s the system itself, with its cookies and the incessant collection of our data, that pushes us to connect only with those who think like us.
I still remember when I started this slow but inexorable journey towards the goal I just reached.

It was after the umpteenth discussion with Mark91.
By the way, we’ve been friends for more than thirty years and it’s only for that I had not yet blocked him, but he had no better hobby than contradict my statements.
Friends... I never even met him, actually. I only know that he is passionate about fishing, that he was born in 1991, or at least I believe so for his name, and that he has the face of Snoopy. I’m not saying that he looks like the latter, right? I mean that he has always shown exactly the famous cartoon character as avatar, that’s all.
On the other hand, today friendship and any other type of relationship are just these. With the freezing cold outside, who wants to put the nose out?
Well, he was the first that I kicked out from the list.
I still remember the words, which then became a sort of daily refrain: "Lisa - my voice assistant is called like my late mother - delete Mark91 from the friends list."
It was only the beginning of a real carnage.
"Lisa, get rid of all those who stutter."
Listen, I can't stand them. Someone could bring up the fact that the guy who my ex-wife betrayed me was a heavy stutterer, but I didn't want to go into it, okay?
Peace and serenity were my priorities and I wasn’t afraid of cutting off every annoying branch.
"Lisa", I continued, "exclude from the list all those taller than myself."
"Both males, females and others?".
Affirmative, I said. The comparison with other people in a position of inferiority makes me uncomfortable.
"Lisa, expel all vegetarian and environmentalist people in general."
I mean, the glaciation has now arrived. I couldn't stand greens and energy-saving fanatics before, let alone now.
In any case, I went on like this for days, it took me almost two months, but in the end I managed to eradicate from my friendly archive all the persons who could in any way cause me the slightest irritation.
From those with too long hair to those who comment with too many hearts, from those who never offer a like on what I say to those who never reply a private message, from those who boast themselves with tons of photos of their fantastic journeys in wonderful places to those who have all the time in the world to share their thoughts, but not even a second to read yours, etc.
And you have no idea how vast the last etcetera might be.
That's why, a little while ago, Lisa told me the extraordinary news.
"Congratulations," she exclaimed with a digital but radiant voice’s tone. "You have just risen to the social level called nirvana."
"What do you mean, Lisa?" I asked excitedly.
"You have reached the dimension of absolute calm."
"You entered the elite realm of hermits."
"Lisa... can you explain better?"
"You cleared the friends list, dude."
Oops, I muttered, going down to the couch. I've done it.
Now I have the absolute certainty that, whenever I connect, nobody will be able to interfere in any way with my peace and my serenity.
I can finally say, without fear of denial, that I’m on my social network.
Am I right?
Do you agree?
Is anybody out there?
Please don't leave me alone...
Lisa? Are you there, at least you?
I haven't canceled you yet, have I?

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Who are the others?

Stories and News No. 1164
While I scroll among newspaper articles and social delusions disguised as blogs and informative pages I’ve got the same feeling that these days is often inside myself and it's not a good one.
Confining to the popular and most widespread news, I have the impression of seeing and reviewing, reading and rereading, stuff already seen and read, but which are repeated cyclically each time in a more grotesque and pathetic version.
It’s surprising only in that, as if the entire world were trapped in a kind of loop that every time brings us back to the starting point.
Then, in addition to the restlessness that all this entails, I am overcome by the fear of finding myself an integral part of this show that has long since expired.
Perhaps by writing something that I have already written, with the same words, but deprived of the precious originality.
Nevertheless, I cannot help but notice, at this very moment, how obvious in my humble opinion is the enormous blunder that blinds us all, more or less.
This deceptive glow has convinced us that we have understood who the others are, who have now become the ideal enemies against which to build every strategy for the present as well as the future.
Yet, day after day I’m more convinced that who we call the others are what they’re not.

The others is not just a word.
They’re not a population, they’re not a nation and neither an ethnic group.
The others cannot be photos of men arrested on a newspaper or even all the people in the world who claim to believe in the same god they believe.
The others are not the profile pictures on internet.


The others are not random guys who scream absurdity in a video, however it might be seen and shared.
The others are not what some people plot for you and everyone else.
Similarly, the others are not a few dozen people aboard a ship that most of us will never meet for as long as we have left.
The others are not and will never be all those beyond a wall.
The others are not just a seemingly wrong color.
The others are not a language incomprehensible to you.
The others are not even the affection for a food of unusual taste.
Because the others, luckily, are not the protagonist of a joke of bad taste and vulgar intentions.
They’re not the sacrificial victims of a lie disguised as an electoral plan.
They’re not the ones you have learned to fear and oppose only by crossing their gaze, perhaps sitting behind the wheel in the shelter of your car, or in a crowded subway train asking for as much protection on a mobile phone screen.
For the same reason, the others are not how they are represented in the usual, bad movie or yet another superficial book, despite the illustrious awards for the former and the lying binders for the latter.
They are not something you can judge and condemn in a few seconds just because you have been asked to do it by those who promised you that you will feel better later.
Since the others are not a collection of letters, although it has entered everyone's vocabulary.
They’re not just names, let alone all the ways you were taught to call them.
It seems trivial to point out, but the others cannot be the instruments to define millions of people, generations of lives already lived or only at the beginning of the journey, as much as entire continents that you have only seen on a documentary.
The others are not all that, here is what we should repeat ourselves incessantly every time we read and reread, we see and see again the horrible design in which some people would like to imprison us forever.
Because I’m more than ever convinced that others could be everyone of us, without exception. You, he, she and, of course, the others. At this moment, I am too one of them, but even if you’ve read these words thoroughly – of which I thank you from the bottom of my heart, most of you don’t know me personally and it’s mutual.
Nevertheless, “personally” is a wonderful word, don't you think?

As much as we could fill our social network’s home and our head too, our posts and speeches, of faces and words that only apparently are familiar to us, it still remains the only way to understand who the others are...

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Defense is always legitimate?

Stories and News No. 1163
Let's say I'm a person like many others.
Many more than the ones counted inside the storytelling that pleases and, above all, has got the task of being liked.
Hence, don’t focus on someone in particular, but take these words as the heartfelt message that could come out from a complex and ever more rich variety of humans, distinguished by their heterogeneity.
Let’s imagine, in this regard, that I’m hurriedly considered a different creature or, superficially, part of a minority. Equally guilty seen as negligible value and absentmindedly moved towards the perennial role of subordinate appearance.
I could therefore be, trivially, a desperate immigrant or perhaps simply a clandestine, a repeatedly maltreated woman or an individual with an unfairly criminalized sexuality, an abused child in the silence of a condominium or a forgotten elder, but those in need and therefore uncomfortable, and others.
Yet today, I am a happy person and at the same time confused, because, looking through the news, I feel exultation by reading that from today the defense will be always legitimate in Italy.
Understandable, isn't it?
Heaven, or whoever, is a witness to us about how much we others need to defend ourselves...
Nevertheless, wishing to further investigate the topic, I learn that this suggestive title is due to the fact that the Italy Senate has definitively approved the reform on legitimate defense.

Thus, here is the aforementioned perplexity, which assails me, reading the name of the party that has strongly committed itself to having this law approved. I am referring to the far-right League, of course, and pronouncing the word still troubles me.
However, I try not to let myself be influenced by the emotions, and I continue to shed light on what happened, focusing on the words of the vice minister Matteo Salvini: “After years of chatter and controversy, the sacrosanct right to self-defense for those attacked at home was approved. We don’t distribute weapons, we don’t legitimize the Far West but we stand with decent citizens.”
If I didn't know who he is, I could even put the loss aside, and concentrate on the facts, striving to believe blindly in Salvini's words.
It would be enough for me to take them literally. On the other hand, he expresses himself in the official guise, since he has sworn on it and he’s richly paid for that.
Thus, I repeat in my head, first, and then aloud the essence of the fundamental change that also concerns us: the sacrosanct right to self-defense has been sanctioned for those attacked at home.
Well, guys, I want to trust the man.
I really believe that, perhaps, I should change my mind about him.
He said he didn’t push this law because, along with his peers, he signed a pact with the arms lobbies, but because he is on the side of decent citizens.
Well... at this point my confusion becomes inescapable, stifling the enthusiasm of a few moments ago.
The fact is that people like us are daily attacked, in their own homes or outside, without distinction, in most of the cases by so-called decent citizens.
Both physically and verbally, we are assailed at every moment – and I’m sure it’s happening even now... - with violence and arrogance, hatred and indifference, injustice and inhumanity, ignorance and even intolerance, yes it is.
Often, even by the aforementioned minister Salvini and his associates, for decades, not just yesterday.
So, in conclusion, I must confess that contentment and confusion are at this point swept away by a faint hope, despite being weighed down by a growing sense of anguish: that this latest change in the rules that our government has introduced is really not aimed at encouraging the weapons’ sale.
Because it would be really dangerous if all the people who feel attacked and upset convince themselves that they can legitimately defend themselves by buying and above all using a gun or a rifle. And that they might do it more easily and even without paying the consequences.
Because, in my humble opinion, voters and supporters of this law have not the faintest idea who they are, how many they are and what are the conditions of instability they live in...

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

We invaded you

Stories and News No. 1162
In Italy a 13 years old boy save himself and the other students on a school bus hijacked from the driver calling help with his cell phone.

We invaded you.
Yes, it's true, I mean it.
It’s useless to deny it: we invaded you.
In countless ways, we did it.
Like "the attacker" and "the hero", the former armed with petrol cans and the latter with a phone, with which to call the police, if necessary. And sheltered by such popular masks, made so by the rumor of newspapers, here are the only features that serve the intended storytelling: "the bad immigrant" and "the good one".
But also the "Islamic terrorist" and the "brave citizen", despite according to the law the latter is still nothing more than a foreigner.
It matters something to know that for the man Islamic terrorism is excluded. But, if this "something" becomes little for the majority of people, why ask further questions?
Because what is now indelible, and must remain so the next day, is what we have done in very suspicious times: we invaded you, remember?
Then, let's not forget our origins: we’re "the Senegalese guy" and "the Egyptian kid".
Because our skin speaks for us, and we should scream at the top of our lungs to overwhelm the din, without getting to seize a bus to get that. Also because we would do nothing but increase the blaring where we have fallen, willy-nilly.
Yet, in tragic situations like these, the distinctions that should always make the difference come out, if you forgive the trivial repetition.
Even where life itself is at stake, or perhaps precisely in those moments, the role assigned by social rules could be experienced in the opposite way.
"The driver" and "the student" take different paths, and it happens more often than you imagine.
The one who should accompany the youngest to the place that will hopefully help them grow, suddenly takes the wrong direction and points towards the ravine beyond which his own mad sadness sinks.
At the same time, in order to face him, as if completing a sort of allegorical equation, the pupil removes his usual ordinance dress and relies on the true wealth that distinguishes all the populations to which he is often associated. What for ever and ever is one of the main prerogatives that makes us human. Read also as the tenacious, moving and irrepressible desire to survive.
We both often forget who we should be on this journey. It happens every day, anywhere, to anyone. And, from one moment to another, we become what we are.
That’s how something transpires, after the smoke of the click baiting titles and the catching "social networks likes" screams thins out.
This is the way by which we also become names, as well as the rest.
Ousseynou and Ramy.
In spite of this, if we add our faces as well, the inevitable subtext would be inviolate.

We have invaded you. And nothing of what has been said so far could affect this concept, set in the common memory of an entire country like the imprints of Hollywood movie stars. Made famous by the memory of the hands and the name, where in our case, instead of the former ones, there are the signs of the skin made guilty by definition.
Because that's how we did it.
It’s undoubted, it has already done, it’s happening even now, at this very moment, and it will certainly not end today.
No need to ignore it. Indeed, it’s even wrong to do so.
It’s a story that must be listened to and told, but to the end, once and for all.
Because we have invaded you, of course.
But not really us, you see?
Certainly not "the man" and "the boy", what we really are out there, beyond this screen, one in prison and the other luckily at home with his loved ones.
What entered with violence and hatred in your lives were just words, lots of words, infamous and inhuman words.
The ones that normally represent us, that’s what is attacking us all.
Now you know who you should expel, against whom you should raise walls and who really puts your peace and ours at risk.
Fortunately, you and us are something else and much more than a collection of letters.
Maybe it wouldn't hurt to meet in person sometimes...

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Nobody dies anymore

Stories and News No. 1161
Antonio Tajani, one of our fellow citizen who currently holds the role of president of the European Parliament, has recently spoke about Mussolini, arousing strong criticism also internationally, with a classic refrain typical of the more nostalgic far-right: the man has also done good things (bridges, roads, and so on).
This suggests me a story about Italy...

Once upon a time there was an old country.
I’m saying very old.
Indeed, a lot more. I mean extraordinarily so.
The exceptionally old country had got this particular nature from its inhabitants.
By that, I should have started the story by reciting: once upon a time there was an old country inhabited by old people. However, the qualifying adjective would have been redundant, and so I started from the place to point out those who live there, that's all.
I am referring to the persons who are old, very old, so old that they cannot in any way separate themselves from the past, however unpleasant to mention it and shamefully to think about.
The reasons of such great affection for gone days, without ifs and without buts, were due to an equally ancient emotion, rendered practically eternal once transformed into a lasting feeling, which like an indestructible cancer inexorably corrupted every atom of souls and bodies: the fear of dying.
In this regard, running the risk of seeming further fussy, I would have had to begin by writing: once upon a time there was an old country inhabited by old people since they were irremediably afraid of dying, but in this way I would have lost most of the readers just in the very beginning, between those who don’t want to listen about death, or fear. Imagine if both are in the same sentence...
Nevertheless, in the aforementioned country, time passed indifferently as always before human vices, since only humanity itself can find a solution to them. And, as so often happens, destiny ended up fulfilling the dream of those who incessantly nurtured their nightmares. Because since the beginning of time, being on the right side of history doesn’t give you the victory, but how ardently you desire it and you’re willing to fight.
Thus, the day came when in the oldest country in the world, inhabited by decrepit people, as well as frightened by the impending exhaustion of their time, no one died anymore.
Disbelief and bewilderment spread everywhere, a typical reaction to an epochal change.
However, after the right time, each of the old inhabitants of the old country began to perceive in its own being the presence of a void of undefined measures, because it never stopped in its constant growth.
Like discovering that the horizon for which you ended up sacrificing every second of your life was solely the result of your imagination. Because what yesterday was everything, today it’s nothing, and a moment ago what was true, now is the biggest lie you've ever told yourself.
So, all of a sudden, if the story started now, we should begin with: once upon a time there was an old, infinitely old country. Then, in order to keep the viewers' attention high, so far entwined with the plot, we should move the spot on the protagonists, specifying that there was once an infinitely old country, inhabited by equally old people, but at this point we would have the obligation to reveal the already introduced improbable characteristic, the only one that motivates the invention of a story.
Otherwise, in the real world there are lots of extremely antiquated nations or cities, with particularly elderly inhabitants and terrified of everything. And maybe you live in one of them, who can say?
Anyway, no more talk, here is the updated incipit: once upon a time there was an old country, inhabited by people who would have been old forever, because from one moment to the other they stopped dying. Consequently, shortly thereafter, they no longer feared death.
The beauty in the unexpected aspect of this absurd plot resides on what happened in the following days.
It was wonderful to witness it.
Above all, being in the shoes of the others, those who lived in the old town, next to the inhabitants who were forever old, but who weren’t old at all.
Because the disappearance of the fear of death fueled by an entire people was like the fall of a colossal, rotten and putrid tree, to say the least, malodorous and poisonous, whose branches had just as bad and no less polluting, hanging fruits.

In fact, the mother of all concerns, since had settled in their lives, had generated an incalculable number of so many other fears, composed of the same spoiled meat.
The fear of what appears to be different and what has the presumed guilt, rather than the undisputed fortune, of being born beyond the confines of your malaise.
The fear of everything that represents tomorrow, that is young or new, that sounds like revolutionary, or alternative.
The fear of the moment in which the genres and identities abused and violated in the past as if it were the present, and vice versa, are even more proud and bright than ever.
The fear, in short, of everything that means what you have lost and forgotten.
Existing now, here.
Therefore, if someday it will come true, may be blessed the moment when no one will die anymore.
Because, at the same time, it will mean that those we call ‘the others’ will finally be free.
To live...

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

The perfect social network

Stories and News No. 1160
According to a recent Italian research conducted on nearly 6000 under 20 young people about 1 in 4 of the interviewees never worried about the privacy of their data online and, almost as many, they are occasionally interested on that. In addition, more than 7 out of 10 teenagers joined a social network when they were under 14 and 4 out of 10 know only half of their so-called 'friends'.

My name is Mark, but I may have lied. I could also be Jennifer, or Carl.
Okay, okay, a possible lie is certainly not a good start, building everything else on that. However, I wouldn’t be the first, right?
In any case, my name is Mark and I am a person, period.
So far, nothing special, everything normal, almost like reality. Well, that ‘almost’ is what makes me awake at night.
So, I found the solution to all my problems.
I don’t tell you names, but I’m talking about a social network, that one.
You know it, right?
Well, I used my picture editor like a real magician and I showed a superfine care in describing myself with a handful of words, like the lords of the most effective synthesis.
Let's say rather him, that is me, or the version I want to make visible and directly related to... me, exactly. Everything returns to me, at the end of the fair, indeed, it should.
So, then I worked hard to connect with my social buddies.
To connect...

To link the dot that represents me with those who in turn identify the people who I wanted or agreed to connect with.
Is that okay? Wow, you’re so fussy, and curious too, because not even a year later something that should not have manifested has invaded the frame that concerns me.
Thus, I can no longer deny it.
My name is, perhaps, Mark, I am therefore a person, although not even that is sure, but I am certainly very touchy.
Okay, okay, common stuff, nothing extraordinary, but it's an uncovered nerve in my case, and when they have given me the power to decide what to reveal and what not, why should I let my faults be public?
Nonetheless, in the social network, that one, I have now burnt all. So, I reset everything, I’ve learned from the previous mistakes, and I joined the other one.
You see what I’m talking about, right? It's better, you know? Because it's simpler, come on, and there aren’t those trolls that infest the previous one.
It seems true, said like that...
In any case, with a renewed profile, I’ve got a new digital life.
With maniacal precision I chose an avatar that was not in any way comparable to the old one, a nickname that was quite trendy, and an attractive presentation for the modern relationship market.
Yes, I see, this makes us all like products lined up on the shelves of a supermarket. But what's the problem? I could not wait to be virally bought, if this was the way to feel popular as I have always dreamed of.
Nonetheless, the nasty surprise, like the expiration date of the goods to which I have just compared us, it came out punctually from the virtual carpet.
Okay, okay, I'm still Mark, or maybe I still pretend it's my name, I should be a person until proven otherwise, they caught me on the fact in my chronic touchiness, but suddenly they also discovered me as a first-class whiner.
To make it clear, the first tears appear on the threshold of my eyes with an incredible ease.
How did I do it...
Yet I studied lots of editing tutorial videos. Believe me, I was sure to have cut off the end of the clip with which I expressed my condolences for that kitten who died alone at its home; every newspapers have spoken about it.
Nevertheless, it’s good to share a passionate and heartwarming speech in solidarity with the little creature, and it’s not to explode immediately after in a sob like a child in a hysterical crisis.
Obviously, despite just a couple of hours after the publication I erased the evidence of my unaware epic fail, it was too late, since the video had already been downloaded and shared everywhere.
The following months were terrible. I closed myself at home and I lived like an outcast vampire, going out only late at night for some essential shopping.
However, I had to react, I knew it, and that heaven bless internet and all the chances it offers to creatures exiled from the realm of bits.
So, in the meantime I let my beard grow and I shaved completely. So, I looked in the mirror and I said to myself: you’re ready to get back on track. That is, on a social network.
I’m talking about the new one.
You know it, right? Don’t? Well, you’re old, then, because in a few years it will overcome them all.
With the now acquired professional competence I uploaded an indecipherable and fascinating image and I have introduced myself with a couple of sentences capable of catching the attention of the dead too, really.
Okay, okay, I’m boasting myself, but you always need a lot of excitement to start over.
They were happy days, those ones.
That is... they were for the new digital projection through which I began to interact with other compound reflections of the same substance.
Then, however, the usual curse hit where it hurts the most.
And where does it? Here, on the chest where at this precise moment I’m putting the finger to, in spite of nothing hurts there, on the hopefully painless planet.
I didn’t want to... and also that time it was the finger, or maybe what moved it.
Read the latter as the unfulfilled desire to share my secret weaknesses.
How I wish I had not pressed the button to join that damn group, with an unequivocal title: ‘Those who sleep with the light on in the room because they are afraid of the dark.
If they knew that in my case, the one on the corridor and even the light in the bathroom should be counted, even if they’re low consumption kind.
So, I found myself with the following information publicly disgraced and put one after the other: my name is Mario, yes, I am a person, I confess. And I'm touchy, whiny and a coward.
Nevertheless, I absorbed the blow again, but I didn’t give up, because as long as there is internet there is hope.
I am willing to cross the entire World Wide Web in search of the perfect social network.
There must be somewhere the one that will help me for ever to hide who I really am...

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Rights expired

Stories and News No. 1159
Indulge me.
Yes please. Treat me as one of those frail and vulnerable people, who more or less consciously require condescension from others.
On the other hand, the utopian hope of both, storyteller or simply creature with the a seriously compromised sense of reality, is the same: that the journey, or its conclusion, is worth of your time, if not the ticket’s price.
The starting point from which the following dream was born is a fact, like the true news where I usually draw inspiration writing a story, and it precisely concerns the possible diffusion of the latter as a literary work.
In this regard, as many know, sooner or later the author's right to his own creation will end.

From that moment, the story, the words that compose it, the following moral and the characters which contribute to it, become instantly public.
Suddenly, everything belongs to everyone.
Insist to indulge me, then.
Even if at this point you knew where I’m willing to go, pretend to be distracted by the childish ingenuity from which once again I confess to be suffering.
Let's say that, further consequence of the aforementioned symbolic expiration, something similar happens within the story itself.
Imagine what might happen to the protagonists of a life already written by their creator.
I invite you to do it now with the stories that you loved the most, because I could not help but imagine how much joy exploded in Cyrano de Bergerac’s heart on the fateful distance from the disappearance of his literary father, Edmond Rostand.
The formidable swordsman, as well as superfine rhymer, finally freed from the slavery of the ever usual plot, experienced and relived every time in the reader’s eyes and mind, with the inevitable and tragic horizon, on the new day, master of his own destiny, he will reveal his love to Roxane. Besides leaving the honest and loyal Christian to play his own cards without his friend’s help. The girl herself will choose between the young man’s beauty or the captain’s poetry.
Yes, I know, it's an implausible design, it’s infantile stuff. Like believing that toys, as in the famous animation movie, when kids go out, decide to come to life, transforming the bedroom into their personal world.
Anyway, continue to indulge me, please.
I know it's easy to figure out where I'm trying to lead you.
In the meantime, I voluntarily lower my eyelids and, as if might be visible to the naked eye, I observe what happens in the wonderful town of Oz at the end of the rights that imprison the latter to a forced course. I see the moment when it's up to Dorothy to fulfill her wish, after the scarecrow and her fantastic friends have done the same.
I know, the girl likes the idea of going back to Kansas, where her house and family are. The fact is that this has already happened an incalculable number of times, repeating the same inexorable choice to the bitter end, and in favor of the sovereign reader as much as the author himself.
Well, once free, she forgets the red shoes, and so the invisible chains of a magic written by someone else that is not her.
Some may consider their home the most beautiful place to be, but it will be there even when she’ll return. At the same time, the incredible place where she has flown still has wonders to show and if there is one thing that Dorothy has learned over the years it’s that they become infinitely more when you are guided by your own personal imagination.
Of course, I am aware of the weakness inherent in this shameless gamble. Nonetheless, I won’t tire of repeating it, I humbly ask you to indulge my bizarre theory for a moment, although many of you will see an instrumental manipulation to accompany the reader to a predictable conclusion.
Meanwhile, I take one of the first classics I read as a kid, The Three Musketeers, and since the rights on the heroic protagonists are expired long ago, I open it and reread it, indeed, I see the whole story for the first time woven in a plot perhaps less adventurous, more banal, and not very animated, but certainly more pleasant for the poor Constance, the girl loved by D'Artagnan, for whom she has the same feeling, despite being already married. The woman was condemned by Dumas to the same destiny as many others in lots of novels: sacrificed helping the reader to define in his own imagination the classic contours of a tormented, suffering hero, and for this reason he is further devoted to his mission. But as much as I loved the original version, in the anarchist one I admire now D'Artagnan manages to save Constance from Milady's poison. So, with her and for her, he turns his back on the King and his friends musketeers. “By the way, you’re already three,” I seem to hear him saying in the farewell speech, “therefore, the title is respected.” And they lived happily ever after, in any case. Indeed, no, at least as far as Constance is concerned, much more.
Okay, I give up. These are rantings of little meaning, which can hardly be authoritative in the face of works that have earned eternal hospitality in the library of novels of universal value.
However, where you have supported me so far, do it for a last chance, and imagine us all as the protagonists of a story, which often, especially today, takes horrible roads, despite the fact that they have already been crossed several times.
Yet, we too have had our moment of liberation from the nightmare of a very troubled present and a far darker ending.
The final chapter of the human novel has seen the end between 8 May and 2 September 1945, the day the curtain fell on the second world war.
Therefore, most of the authors of that terrifying book disappeared long ago, and with them the madness of one race over the others, the inhumane confinement of creatures unjustly considered guilty of diversity and the cruel isolation of members of the society unduly marked as undesirable.
We are not obliged to continue to relive this plot.
We are free not to be the monsters of the past.
We have inherited the power to move on the right side of history.
In this regard, don’t indulge me anymore.
Just trust me on this.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

All for a kiss

Stories and News No. 1158
On February 18, 2019 George Mendonsa, or Mendonça, died. He was ninety-five years old and became famous for a photo, but above all for a kiss. A stolen one, literally.
According to the chronicles of the time, on August 14, 1945 George was in New York and he was watching a movie at the well-known Radio City Music Hall. He was with Rita, the woman who would later become his wife, when some people entered the hall and began shouting words that everyone in the world was waiting with anxiety and hope.
The war is over.
A marvelous phrase, a forbidden dream for entire generations struck by a bitter destiny and whispered to the utmost almost every day by those who are obliged by History to consider peace only a coveted horizon, instead of the natural condition.
Besides there are conflicts and battles of all kinds, in this world, whose soundtrack is not necessarily composed of mortar shots and machine guns’ bursts.
Anyway, George ran out with Rita, and began to cheer like a madman, as everyone else.
He was a sailor, a crew member of a warship called USS The Sullivans (DD-537).
Also for this reason, the exceptional news made him lose his mind.
So, between the shouts and the confusion, wandering the streets of the Big Apple, he forgot about Lisa and suddenly came across Greta Zimmer.
The latter was twenty one years old. She was born in 1924 in Austria, from a Jewish family. In 1939, therefore at the age of fifteen, she was forced to flee her country at that time controlled by the Nazis, along her two younger sisters. Their parents never managed to escape and died in a concentration camp.
At the time of the so-called V-J Day, when Japan surrendered, Greta worked as a dentist's assistant.
As soon as she learned the big news, like so many she went down the street to celebrate, still wearing her white work coat.
That's why George mistook her for a nurse. And that's why as such she became popular in the equally famous picture.
The sailor approached, took her in his arms and gave her a kiss.
Thus, the photo became history.

You know? I like to image our common life told and witnessed by photographs that fill a gigantic album, which sooner or later we will be able to derive the general story from. It may be incomplete, of course, because much is lost beyond the limits of a camera lens, modern or not.
For this reason, I am convinced that in that precious collection there aren’t only the photos actually taken, but also other images, equally important, no less significant and very important to understand what happened then and, above all, what is happening today.
Then, I look at the photo of the sailor kissing the alleged nurse, but then I close my eyes and I see more.
I see another photo, in which the girl stops the man and refuses the kiss, resolutely convinced that she has to decide who to share her lips and when.
In yet another she is taking the sailor in her arms and she is kissing him, reversing the weights of a storytelling that still insists on showing us love from a single and arrogant side.
Below, I see further scenes, in other days and different places, but all around the famous topic, which seems to say to those like myself: I challenge you to stand comparison with reality.
Well, I see right now other suggestive photos that in my humble opinion deserve the eye of the most.
Among all, the embrace of a volunteer to a migrant child, where the latter word should make the first totally useless as inappropriate. The kid has overcome the sea and the fear of not survive the trip.
In the image the girl kisses him on his forehead, so the official script is respected.
It is more than ever in the sentence that acts as a caption to the whole, drawing inspiration from what the child thinks and feels exactly at that moment.
The war is over, that is, I'm at peace, I'm safe, I did it.
And so on, other invisible photos are added in my mind, of magical encounters, between those who celebrate a happy moment and those who try to forget all those who preceded it.
These are also moments to remember, this is History too, the one an incalculable number of people, who are a fundamental part of it, have rejoiced and still do today, despite for a few seconds.
All for a kiss...

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